WASHINGTON (AP) — For President Barack Obama, winning re-election rests on a workman-like, get-out-the-vote strategy aimed at protecting key territory in the Midwest, ramping up minority turnout and building early voting leads that could protect against a late surge by Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
It's a far cry from the lofty rhetoric and gauzy closing argument advertisements that defined Obama's final push in 2008. And it's a reflection of a race that remains tight in its final days, and an outcome that could hinge on little more than battleground state turnout.
"We have two jobs: One, persuade the undecideds, and two, turn our voters out," said Jim Messina, Obama's data-driven campaign manager.
Obama himself has gotten deeply involved in those efforts. He made a personal appeal to 9,000 undecided voters on a conference call from Air Force One, promoted early voting by casting his own ballot before Election Day and offered encouragement to staff and volunteers during numerous stops to battleground state campaign offices.
"I hate to put the burden of the entire world on you, but basically it's all up to you," Obama told volunteers this week in Orlando, Fla. His comments were meant to be light-hearted, but they spoke to the degree to which his campaign is counting on its massive ground game to carry Obama to re-election.
The campaign relied heavily on that operation this week when Superstorm Sandy forced Obama off the campaign trail and back to Washington for three days to oversee the federal response.
The Democratic get-out-the-vote effort kept churning, allowing Obama to project presidential leadership and offer comfort in a crisis — intangibles his campaign knows could be beneficial in persuading late-breaking voters.
They helped him win at least one person: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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